The Gov.'s Council: An Existential Drama?

By Adam Reilly

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Feb. 11, 2011

In 2010, the Governor's council presided over Gov. Patrick's certification of the special Senate election won by Scott Brown. Now, some critics are wondering what the point of the Council is -- and its members are fighting back. (massgovernor/Flickr)

BOSTON — Back in the Colonial era, the Massachusetts Governor’s Council had plenty of clout. Lately, though, it’s acquired a reputation as an antiquated, do-nothing body. Now, calls are mounting to eliminate the Council altogether.

So it may not be a coincidence that the Council has been making life increasingly difficult for Gov. Deval Patrick.
 
This week, the Governor’s Council nearly rejected Gov. Patrick’s judicial nominee Heather Bradley, showcasing its penchant for political fireworks. At one point, Councilor Marilyn Petitto Devaney waxed indignant about money that Bradley and her husband, State Rep. Garrett Bradley, have lavished on Massachusetts politicians.
 
“$210,00 dollars just in the past 3 years. How egregious is this?” Devaney asked.
 
Devaney also turned up the heat on her colleague at the council, Kelly Timilty, who got some of the Bradleys’ cash.
 
“I will respectfully request Councilor Timilty again to recuse herself from this vote,” Devaney said.
 
“I will not!” Timilty answered.
 
“As it would give the appearance of undo influence,” Deveney said, as Timilty shrugged.
 
Next up was newly elected Republican Councilor Charles Cipollini, who’s quickly earning a reputation for high drama. His commentary on Bradley didn’t disappoint.
 
“She is grossly unqualified and she lacks the experience,” Cipollini said, almost glowering.
 
For good measure, Cipollini vowed to continue his anti-Bradley fight even if she became a judge.
 
“I will file a complaint with the Massachusetts state ethics commission regarding the over $200,000 dollars she and her husband made in political contributions. My vote is no!” Cipollini added.
 
After the council split four-to-four, Governor Patrick took the gavel so Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray could cast the deciding vote.
 
He voted yes.
 
It was the first 5-4 vote in years, and grist for critics who say the Council is a needless impediment. The Boston Globe and the liberal blog Blue Mass. Group say the council should be eliminated. And a new bill from State Senator Brian Joyce would do just that. But supporters like the Fatherhood Coalition’s Joe Ureneck disagree.
 
“Finally the council is having some real discussion about these judicial nominations that are coming forward, instead of just being a rubber stamp,” Ureneck argued.
 
Next up for the Council: A vote on Joshua Wall, the governor’s pick to head the state’s troubled Parole Board. If you like political theater, make sure to bring some popcorn.



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About the Author
Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.

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